While out collecting some Portuguese laurel for the formidable flower arranger Mrs Dawes, feisty widow Ellie Quicke comes across a dead body . . . a corpse without an identity. Next day, Mrs Dawes is discovered by Ellie and her grandson, badly beaten and close to death. Much to Ellie's dismay, the police think shaven-headed Neil, Mrs Dawes' grandson, is responsible, even after a third body comes to light.
As if this were not enough, Ellie's ambitious daughter Diana has gone into partnership with a smiling, steely estate agent; Ellie's aged aunt is making plans, which are sure to cause family ructions; and their delightfully rotund vicar asks for more attention from Ellie than she can easily give.